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A Poisoned Well
July 31, 2002
By punpirate

Have we all gone crazy with blind patriotism? I wonder. War against Afghanistan was crazy enough, and now, after not being able to solve the fundamental problem - terrorism by a small group of Islamic fundamentalists, we are now rushing headlong into yet another war, with Iraq, without provocation, without justification, except for what the Bush administration refers to as a necessary "regime change."

Sounds so simple. Get rid of Saddam Hussein. Throughout the last gulf war, the U.S. tried to target Hussein and failed to get him. Now, the seeming proposal is to bomb the living hell out of Baghdad, and all will be well - we'll get `im. In the last gulf war, we had, between field and support troops, almost 600,000 men and women at risk, from half-a-dozen countries. Now, we propose to waltz in with 50,000 or so and wipe out Hussein, and, possibly, all of Baghdad, as well.

Who's kidding who here? Is there a motive? Yes, possibly. As one recent commentator opined, perhaps George W. Bush has a hard-on for Saddam Hussein because Hussein reportedly arranged for an assassination attempt on Dubya's revered father in 1993 (little evidence made public to support same, though), and Dubya is the sort of fella to always hold a grudge, especially when Poppy is concerned. Is it possible that Dubya is bending the entire military to his own private vendetta?

Geez, who knows? Dubya won't tell the truth about anything, so how are we lowly citizens to know the truth about war on Iraq?

The public facts are, to date, that there's no solid connection between Sept. 11th and Iraq's leadership. It's also public fact that Hussein is pretty much a complete asshole - a classic dictator, without much appreciation for his people or his role in his geographical region or his standing amongst Muslims, either. Nevertheless, one of the more military, straight-up guys in the eye of the press today, Scott Ritter, is saying that there's no reason to attack Iraq because of its WMD capabilities.

All that said, the U.S. cannot make the mistake of using its power to arbitrarily install a shadow government in Iraq, simply because it's convenient to our interests. Those interests are oil, praise be. Let's review, briefly: Iraq has no weapon whatsoever which can reach the United States. Iraq has, after the destruction of most of its chemical and biological warfare capability, little left with which to fight its neighbors, and can only, back against the wall, fire off a few SCUDs against Israel or descending U.S. troops, which it would certainly do if cornered. Against a few pop `n glo SCUDs, Israel can launch a hundred or more nuclear weapons. Israel restrained from doing so in the last gulf war, but this time?, not a chance. Under Sharon's leadership, they'll do everything they can to put Armageddon in Hussein's backyard.

Maybe the wilder, more suicidal of Bush's minions will beat Israel to the punch, and use tactical nuclear weapons on Baghdad. That's what the latest Nuclear Posture Review promises. Tactical nuclear weapons in pre-emptive strikes.

Apart from the simple horror of even considering such a means of minimizing the deaths of Americans and accomplishing an aim, there is a simpler and more basic question to be considered: what right do we have do to so? Is there a fundamental difference between Osama bin Laden's attempt to disrupt our country's way of life and the Bush administration's desire to arbitrarily unseat a dictator in Iraq? If the issue were simply dictatorship and lack of democracy, one would expect nuclear attack on Myanmar, and repudiation of the Pedro Carmonas takeover of Venezuela.

But, no, it's more complicated than that. It's about expedient aims. Get rid of Hussein, possibly for personal reasons, but which action also opens up all sorts of other possibilities. With another regime in place, however unstable, American firms would be free to sell to Iraq, and control its oil operations. Somehow, that misses yet another point: since when does America openly wage war against the people of other countries without provocation? We've fought regimes with the aid of the CIA, under cover, but rarely, if ever, attacked a country without open provocation, without being attacked first. Such runs counter to our avowed role in the world at large. To suddenly launch attacks on any country, at will, is to subject the American people to retaliation for which they are little prepared, and will be no more prepared after Congress and Bush enact new laws to submerge our rights in a silly attempt to counter the terrorism which other of the administration's policies encourage.

To do so is to forever condemn the U.S. in the eyes of all Muslims, everywhere in the world. To do so is to forever condemn the citizens of the U.S. to random terrorist attacks, and to condemn the citizens of the U.S. to increasingly repressive administrative fiats in opposition of Constitutional law.

As with the PATRIOT ACT, TIPS, and the Homeland Security Agency Act, war against Iraq is part of a pattern of attack upon the rights of the American people, rather than a solution to the problem of terrorism. It is a stone-age response to a complicated 21st century problem.

The old parable of the subjects of the king who have drunk from the poisoned well and have gone insane has been reversed. Bush and his close advisers have drunk from the wells of paranoia, xenophobia, secrecy and vendetta, and have bidden all their citizens to do the same, a simple task made simpler by drinking from the one well of false patriotism, which combines the poisons of all the other wells.

America can rise above the venal interests of George W. Bush and his ilk, but not without repudiating him and them through the popular vote. Americans cannot be proud of what is about to come. Americans would not wish on themselves what they will soon allow their representatives and president to do to others in the world. To attack another Muslim country invites further attack on us. Such a decision is foolhardy and, frankly, stupid.

If the American people support war on Iraq, it seems obvious and inevitable that the American people will suffer, too, eventually, because of that attack. To support the insane in the current administration is to drink from a poisoned well.


punpirate is a writer, living in New Mexico, who wants to believe that the American people are smarter, and still saner, than the representatives they vote for.

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